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Does Service Employees' Appearance Affect the Healthiness of Food Choice?
EBS Business Sch, Oestrich, Germany..
Univ Roehampton, London SW15 5SL, England..
Karlstad University, Faculty of Economic Sciences, Communication and IT, Service Research Center.
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Service Research Center.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8278-1442
2015 (English)In: Psychology & Marketing, ISSN 0742-6046, E-ISSN 1520-6793, Vol. 32, no 1, 94-106 p.Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
Abstract [en]

Derived from previous research on social influence on food consumption and social comparison theory, this article examines the effect of service employees' appearance on consumers' food choice using an experimental study, involving a video manipulation and eye-tracking technique. The video shows a menu being proffered by a waitress whose degree of apparent healthiness varies (healthy, overweight, unhealthy lifestyle). The menu contains both healthy and unhealthy meal alternatives. The analysis of participants' eye movements demonstrated that exposure to the overweight employee did not stimulate greater (i.e., earlier or longer) attention to unhealthy meal alternatives, whereas exposure to the employee who displayed an unhealthy lifestyle did. These findings have social and managerial implications: The postulated stigma according to which the presence of overweight others encourages unhealthy eating appears questionable. Service providers that might secretly hire according to body weight have no grounds to do so. In contrast, employees signaling an unhealthy lifestyle through their style choices prompt patrons to pay more attention to unhealthy meal alternatives. Food service providers might want to take this factor into consideration and actively manage the aspects that can be altered by simple measures. (C) 2014 The Authors. Psychology & Marketing Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 32, no 1, 94-106 p.
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
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URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-41660DOI: 10.1002/mar.20765ISI: 000349071500007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-41660DiVA: diva2:918441
Available from: 2016-04-11 Created: 2016-04-11 Last updated: 2016-04-15Bibliographically approved

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